The eighth most popular blog post on the blog was from December 2020, Ten Great Christmas Zoom and Teams Backgrounds. Using the excellent image sites, UNsplash and Pixabay, I put together ten festive images that could be used as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams meetings.
In May my Pogo Printer died and I wrote about this and this was the post at number seven in the top ten, dropping five places from number two last year. This was one of two posts that were in last year’s top ten,
In at number five on my top ten was some thoughts on working from home which I posted just before the March Covid-19 lockdown. I do a fair amount of remote working and location-independent working and am quite happy about doing this.
Of course the lockdown was a totally different experience to what I was use to. No chance to pop out for coffee or off to the office when I didn’t want to work from home.
Having used the BBC backgrounds for a while and having some photographs when I visited The Harry Potter Studio Tour I decided to share some of the more suitable photos as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams and this was the fourth most popular post on the blog.
Despite new posts and more traffic, the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.
BT came round yesterday and fitted FTTP or full fibre as BT likes to call it. It was quite a painless process, so much so that I didn’t actually notice that the FTTC connection had been turned off and the FTTP turned on, well I was in the midst of writing an e-mail at the time.
They had to upgrade the terminal outside, drill a hole through the wall and mount the modem and the Smart Hub near some power sockets.
Now we have a 1Gb connection, though the reality with WiFI is that the most I can get is about 500Mb/s, but that is still 25 times faster than what I had before!
The speed and quality of the WiFi signal is much better and is working well It will take a little time to settle in over the next few weeks so the speed will fluctuate up and down. Though for my first Teams call after installation it was working a treat.
Accessing streaming video and downloading files is so much faster, but the other main benefit is better quality WiFi across the house. Though the signal degrades as you move away from the Hub, 20% of 400Mb/s is much better than 20% of 30Mb/s for doing stuff.
I had to go around and reconnect everything to the new wireless network, the Apple devices were the easiest as I could share the password across my devices just by bringing them close to each other.
Where I could use WPS that meant I could connect the printer and some Windows machines. The hardest devices to connect to the new wireless network was the Amazon Alexa devices, but got those done in the end.
I have placed an order for fibre to the premises FTTP with estimated speeds of 900Mb/s down and 110Mb/s up. Should be up and running in the next couple of weeks.
A few months back our local area was awash with BT Openreach vans.
So we have FIVE BT openreach vans within 20 metres of our house and loads of BT workers as well. No idea what they are up to, I would go and ask, however a) social distancing and all that and b) they may, if I went up to them, think I was of those 5G conspiracy nutters!
I did wonder if they were installing full fibre connections, or fibre to the premises FTTP. I remember at the time doing a search, but no news on any kind of upgrade to either cabinet 25 or the Worle Exchange.
Bizarrely enough it was an advert on Instagram that caught my attention back on the 1st October. Almost for a joke I decided to see if I could get faster fibre, I wasn’t expecting to, but was quite surprised to see that I could in fact have FTTP!
Having suffered poor ADSL speeds for many years, I was really pleased, in September 2017 when BT Openreach finally finished the upgrade to cabinet 25 and we could have FTTC fibre.
With roughly 30Mb/s download and 9Mb/s upload speed I felt I was back, in terms of internet speeds, where I was in 2012 at our old house before we moved. Eight years ago I blogged about how I lost my FTTC connection having moved house (literally just moved down the same road).
It took over five years for BT Openreach to upgrade Cabinet 25 so we could have FTTC.
One of the reasons I didn’t place an order straight away was that, if I ordered BT Full Fibre I would have to close my current internet account with my ISP. Now I have been with my ISP since 1998, they were my first ISP, well the first I paid for after a free trial with AOL. I had seen an advert in a computing magazine, they were called Force9 and were based in Sheffield.
I had a dial-up internet account with them initially where I paid a monthly fee for internet access as well as any telephone charges.
Stayed with them when I moved house. In June 2000, the Force9 brand was changed to Plusnet. This coincided with the introduction of the Surftime dialup internet products, the first real 24/7 unmetered dial-up service in the UK. This worked really well with the Airport Extreme base station I had with integrated modem. I could use my Mac to enable the connection and then use the wifi across the home to use the internet wherever I was in the house.
When ADSL was enabled in February 2003, I upgraded to this new faster internet. The always on nature of ADSL changed how I used the internet, and in some ways how the internet used me.
Plusnet was sold to BT in 2007 and I think it lost a little of its soul that day, but I stuck with them.
On this day in 2010 I upgraded to FTTC and this was a real revelation. With 40Mb down and 10Mb up this is significantly faster than the 1.3 down and 0.6 up I had before.
I was so disappointed when we moved house two years later and lost it and went back to the slow speeds of ADSL.
Five years later, cabinet 25 was upgraded and we had fibre back.
All that time I was with Force9 or Plusnet as they like to be called.
When I found out I could have FTTP from BT, I did think I should be able to get FTTP from Plusnet as I recalled they were doing FTTP trials a few years back. Alas it was apparent that they don’t do FTTP products. So it was with a little sadness (don’t know why) that I ordered the BT Full Fibre product and this automatically activated the cancellation of my account with Plusnet.
So rather than walk up a hill, taking thirty minutes to reach a patient, the paramedic wearing the jet suit can reach them in under ninety seconds. This could prove vital in delivering the necessary primary care to an injured walker, or those who have had a heart attack.
The paramedic doesn’t do an IronMan and fly up into the sky, they use the jet suit to hover a short distance above the ground and then use the jets on their arms to manoeuvre and direct them along.
You can start to imagine other applications of this technology…
The future I was told about as a child is finally arriving….
I love this story as reported by the BBC about a small village in Wales which was having persistent broadband outages and it was proving difficult to work out what the cause of the problem was. After eighteen months engineers began an investigation after a cable replacement programme did nit fix the issue.
Eventually after sweeping the village with detection devices they narrowed it down to a single house. What was happening was the person in the house was switching on their old TV at 7am every morning and the electrical interference emitted by their second-hand television was affecting the broadband signal.
They have now promised not to turn on the TV anymore!
We know that there are many potential problems with electrical devices interfering with broadband connections, as well as other devices in the home playing havoc with wifi signals as well. It’s never easy.
The post at number six was from 2012 when my HP Photosmart printer died. My printer is dead! was a sorry tale about how replacing the ink cartridges on the HP B110a resulted it in destroying the print head.
So the most popular post again on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.
I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I often travel a fair bit for work, so it’s nice to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. In a previous blog post I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.
No Such Thing as a Fish is a weekly British podcast series produced and presented by the researchers behind the BBC Two panel game QI. In it each of the researchers, collectively known as “The QI Elves”, present their favourite fact that they have come across that week. The most regular presenters of the podcast are James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber, although other QI researchers also make appearances, and there are guest presenters on some episodes.
I have always enjoyed QI on the television, so it was interesting to discover this podcast from the researchers behind the programme.
I don’t recall how I found the podcast, but it’s an interesting podcast full of (quite interesting) facts.
If you are expecting an audio version of QI, then look elsewhere, yes the podcast is full of quirky facts and information, but the format is different to the show. I really like the fact that it is different.
As well as facts, the banter between the hosts is also engaging and amusing. Though there are some reflections on previous episodes, I find that you can dip in and out on the podcast without having to listen to them all.
This is an enjoyable fun podcast, which you may also learn some stuff.
I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I haven’t done a post like this for a while, let’s look, wow seven years ago…
I use to have a lengthy commute to work, and also travelled a fair bit for work, so it was nice to have something to listen to. Since about 2012 I started to commute by train, as a result I could do other things, in a car you drive and you can listen to podcasts. On a train you can do a few different things, but mainly you can look at a screen.
Recently I have been travelling a bit more by car and have been rediscovering podcasts, most have been old favourites, some of which I have already blogged about. I have also found some new ones. So decided to resurrect this blog post series.
The West Wing Weekly is an American podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina. In each episode, the hosts discuss one episode of the television program The West Wing, which originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006.
I really enjoyed The West Wing when it was first “broadcast” back in the early 2000s.The West Wing was an American political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin. It was broadcast in the US from 1999 to 2006.
I recently re-watched the entire first series having managed to get it for £4.99 on Amazon Prime. It was just as good as I remembered it and when the prices come back down I will probably get the rest of the series, or look for it on DVD.
Malina co-hosts the podcast The West Wing Weekly with Hrishikesh Hirway. The series debuted in March 2016.
I was intrigued and interested. So on a recent car journey, I loaded the podcast and listened to the fist few episodes relating to the first season. It often takes a couple of podcast episodes to bed in, and though I enjoyed the pilot episode, the next few I think were better.
Though I have listened to fan podcasts of shows, I think what I really enjoyed with The West Wing Weekly was the inside knowledge that Josh brings to the recording. He has worked with Aaron Sorkin the write behind the West Wing for many years including the stage version of A Few Good Men and the film, The American President. He also joined the cast of The West Wing in 2002.
The format of the show is based on the concept of having watched the episode in question, you listen to the podcast as Josh and Hrishikesh discuss the plot, the character development, the filming. They also bring in guests, so for example, in the third episode they bought in a guest, Dulé Hill, who played Presidential Aide, Charlie Young.
Though I’ve only started to listen, over the last few years the podcast has featured various cast and crew members including series creator Aaron Sorkin, director Tommy Schlamme, series actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Marlee Matlin, and Dulé Hill, longtime series writer-producers Eli Attie and Lawrence O’Donnell, and many former government officials, academics, and pundits, among others.
It’s interesting to listen to the analysis, seventeen years after the show was broadcast, as so much had changed since then, and we know so much more about the White House, part of which is down to The West Wing. An early example of that was the use of the term POTUS, which back then nobody knew what it meant, today we do, part of which is down to the success of the West Wing.
Josh and Hrishikesh have covered one episode a week, so at the time of writing are well into the final season, number seven. I have a bit of catching up to do… both in terms of listening to the podcast, but also watching The West Wing.